Mercy Speech Therapist Has Community Talking

January 26, 2015

Left to right: Stephanie Collins (Shawn’s wife),

speech therapist Krista Schnurbusch, Shawn

Collins and his son Micheal.

For years, farmer Shawn Collins’ chores were second nature; he’d wake up, check on livestock, tend the garden and mow the yard. But one summer afternoon, his trip back to the house didn’t go quite as planned.

“My hand fell off the throttle on the tractor and it just stopped responding,” Collins said. “Then when I got to the gate, my right leg wouldn’t move. I knew I’d had a stroke, but I couldn’t convey that to my wife.” Unable to walk, speak or swallow, Collins was airlifted to Mercy; just days later, he began physical and speech therapy.

“Right away, our main goal was to get him back to eating meals and communicating with his family,” said Krista Schnurbusch, a speech-language pathologist who recently joined Mercy St. Francis Hospital full time. “Mr. Collins quit working and felt self conscious around people – a big change for someone so outgoing and well known in the Mountain View community.”

Collins and his wife attended every therapy session, working at home on exercises and sometimes calling Schnurbusch’s cell phone after hours for help. Week by week, Collins’ determination matched his therapy team’s dedication to help him recover, with each treatment tailored to his needs. “If it wasn’t for this therapy team, I wouldn’t have gotten better,” Collins said. “Krista watched my wedding videos to study my expressions, to help me get back to normal.”

Collins quickly regained his ability to articulate, and slowly relearned how to swallow without choking. One of his last hurdles: winking. “Krista helped me work the muscles around my eye so I could close one eye, but we never quite knew if I’d be able to do it again. Sure enough, one day I walked in and winked at her. She said, ‘Oh my, it finally worked!’”

Schnurbusch treats acute care and outpatients of varying ages through referrals by primary care and specialty physicians. She has treated a variety of patients, including some of the following ailments:

  • Stroke (CVA)
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Cancer
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Autism
  • Developmental Disorders
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Language Delays
  • Speech Sound Disorders
  • Vocal Abuse
  • Hearing Impairment

“Strokes like Mr. Collins’ are the most common among our adult patients,” Schnurbusch said. “For children, it’s either autism or a speech delay, because they’re just not talking the way they should be and their family or doctor are concerned about it. Regardless of age, the earlier a problem can be identified, the better the outcome usually is.”

Schnurbusch’s areas of expertise include rehab for adults and patients with swallowing difficulties, as well as treatment for children with multiple handicaps and diagnoses. She has worked for Community Hospices of America, AEGIS Therapies, Physical Therapy Specialists Clinic, Inc., Ozarks Medical Center, and is now proud to be a member of the Mercy St. Francis rehabilitation team in Mountain View, Missouri.

“The facility has a feel about it that’s home,” Schnurbusch said. “I have a private office where I provide individual therapy, and if the client needs to see a physical therapist or occupational therapist at any point, we have a therapy gym.”

Collins is grateful to function normally again, something he’ll never take for granted. “The best thing anybody can do is not give up, and therapy gave me the tools to get better.”

To learn more about what’s offered at Mercy Therapy Services – Mountain View, located at 100 W. US Highway 60, click hereor call 417-934-7050. To schedule an appointment with any of the therapy services -- physical therapy, occupational therapy or speech-language pathology -- call 417-934-7095.